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Celebrating safely

Last year’s celebration of St. Patrick’s Day was more subdued than expected, as some bars and restaurants were closed and people were hesitant to go out as COVID-19 was beginning to work its way through our lives.

Things look better this year, as more vaccines are being delivered and states are removing restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

That means there is a strong possibility that celebrations to mark the holiday will resume and a lot of alcohol likely will be consumed between now and Wednesday as people look for a reason to get out.

With that in mind, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the West Virginia State Police and the Pennsylvania State Police are urging party-goers not to push the “luck of the Irish” and get behind the wheel of a car while under the influence.

Troopers as well as officers with township, village, city and county departments urge those who plan to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day to designate a sober driver. State and local law enforcement will be working together to remove impaired drivers from the roads to ensure the safety of all.

Need a reminder? Consider some statistics: There were 73 people killed in drunk-driving crashes in 2018, and 62 percent of fatal St. Patrick’s Day car crashes involved a drunk driver.

Even those who choose to walk are not safe — 33 percent of pedestrians killed in St. Patrick’s Day crashes in 2018 had a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or higher.

An OVI conviction likely will result in suspension of a driver’s license, possible jail time and large fines. It is a major inconvenience that could put your job at risk because you can’t drive.

Not only do you put yourself and everyone else in your vehicle in jeopardy when you drink and drive, but you put every innocent driver on the road in danger.

Let’s celebrate St. Patrick’s Day responsibly.

You’ll still be able to have fun while wearing a mask and adhering to social distancing guidelines and, if you do plan to drink, make sure there’s someone with you who can be the designated driver.

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